A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.
newsagency of the future

What retail newsagents can learn from how fintechs are taking on the big banks

Fintechs, Finance Technology businesses, are businesses leveraging technology to disrupt banking and banking related businesses.

In an excellent article, Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t,  published at Medium, Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing at New York University, explores the challenge of energetic tech-driven start-ups on old, well-established and risk-averse banks.

The article is relevant to small business newsagency outlets in Australia as it deals with the challenge of an old business model, a model too many in the banking channel rely on today, and, in our case, too many newsagents.

Banks built success on location, their branch network, as did our channel. Tech b being leveraged by finch businesses makes location irrelevant. This is true for many of the products and services we sell, even more so than we probably currently imagine.

Another, easier (and more fun) indicator of ripeness is the eighties test. Put yourself smack dab in the center of the store/product/service, close your eyes, spin around three times, open your eyes, and ask if you’d know within 5 seconds that you were not in 1985. Theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, university classes, doctor’s offices, and banks still feel as if you could run into Ally Sheedy or The Bangles.

The article engaged me because when galloway talks about banks and their old way of doing business today, he could equally be writing about our channel. Now, I am not being crucial about newsagents here. no, my criticism is more focussed on our suppliers. Their business practices and processes, which they demand we follow, are rooted in history, rooted in the past, and rooting out businesses negatively.

As fintechs are disrupting the banks, there are others out there disrupting us. This includes suppliers who are building and promotion their own direct to consumer pathways, Tabcorp, Are Media, News Corp, Nine Media, and more.

Start-ups are all about being lean and not being beholden to doing something a certain way because that is how it has always been done. Our channel has 140+ years of history, making it hard to be lean and energetic in our business practices.

We have to find ways of reinventing ourselves. This takes courage. It also requires us to let go of some things, which is not a popular view in our channel, especially among the old-school and those aligned with suppliers. But, we must, for our future is to be found in being like a finch business disrupting a bank … being nimble, smart, engaged and fast.

Footnote: This post focusses on retail since in the distribution space, the newspaper home delivery space, the publishers have stripped that from us, without fair compensation, and we let them.

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